April 18, 2016 Last Updated 1:10 pm

Follett Corporation consolidates the book distribution business with Baker & Taylor acquisition

There has been a major acquisition announced today in the book business: Illinois-based Follett has acquired Baker & Taylor, another major book wholesaler. Baker & Taylor was owned by the New York private equity owner Castle Harlan, so the sale was not unexpected.

I once interviewed at Follett. First I had to figure out where Westchester was (south of O’Hare Airport) and then visit their headquarters for the interview. It turned out to be one of the odder interviews ever: all I was interested in was digital, and all they cared about was whatever book publishing experience I had while at McGraw-Hill. We talked past each other and since then I launched my own book publishing business and they move more into digital. But at the time it was a cultural mismatch.

Follett is the bigger company, but now the combined companies should be in the range of $3.6B a year in revenue.

Baker & Taylor concentrates on distributing books, video and music to public libraries and institutions, which makes it a good match for Follett, which is strong in the education market.

Here is the announcement:

WESTCHESTER, IL – April 18, 2016 — Follett Corporation today announced that it has acquired Baker & Taylor, LLC, the leading distributor of books, video and music products to public libraries and institutions, and a major wholesaler to retailers worldwide. With combined sales of $3.6 billion, the two businesses will offer librarians, patrons, educators and students unprecedented access to the best curated physical and digital content wherever learning and reading take place in the community.

Follett is a top provider of technology, services and print and digital content to PreK-12 libraries, schools and higher education institutions. Baker & Taylor, based in Charlotte, N.C., will continue to operate as before, serving customers through its existing management team and business operations.

“Acquiring Baker & Taylor marks a major milestone for Follett that expands the possibilities of our two businesses,” said Todd A. Litzsinger, Chairman of Follett. “Through our support of schools, public libraries, colleges, local bookstores and retailers, our teams are uniquely positioned to help communities everywhere strengthen literacy and learning. On behalf of the Follett family, I’m excited and proud to welcome the Baker & Taylor team to Follett.”

“The capabilities, expertise, and technologies of Follett and Baker & Taylor are very complementary, making this a natural partnership of two trusted industry leaders,” said Ray A. Griffith, President and Chief Executive Officer of Follett. “Our unique insights, curated content and innovative services will help librarians and educators more effectively meet the evolving learning needs of their communities.”

George F. Coe, Baker & Taylor’s President and Chief Executive Officer, will continue to lead the business as Follett Group President, Baker & Taylor and Follett School Solutions, reporting directly to Griffith. “George brings decades of industry leadership and relationships to Follett that will benefit our own school library and PreK-12 business as well,” added Griffith.

Coe joined Baker & Taylor in 2000, and was instrumental in developing Baker & Taylor’s Customized Library Services, Digital Media and eContent Platform Delivery Services and outsourcing capabilities in Collection Development Services.

“This strategic combination brings together the two best teams in the public and school library sectors with capabilities uniquely focused on supporting lifelong learning,” said Coe. “With Follett’s commitment to education and strong financial ability to invest in Baker & Taylor, we expect to build on our long-term vision for content distribution and expand the flow of innovative products, programs and services for all of our customers worldwide.”

Follett also announced today that Nader Qaimari has been promoted to President of Follett School Solutions, reporting to Coe. Qaimari was named General Manager of Follett’s preK-12 business in October of 2015.

In addition to providing customers access to curated content from thousands of publishers and sources, Follett and Baker & Taylor are recognized leaders in the delivery of library management and collection development technology tools to public and school libraries.

Baker & Taylor

Title Source 360 is the next generation collection development, selection and ordering tool for library and retail customers.

Axis 360 is a digital media library and circulation tool that gives public librarians the ability to share digital content throughout the community.

CollectionHQ is a professional tool librarians use to develop and improve their collections.


Destiny Library Manager is the leading library management solution trusted by 60,000 PreK-12 schools.Follett Destiny centralizes access to enriched, educator-reviewed digital content and tools that help school librarians, staff and students locate and share resources with ease.

Titlewave is the most powerful PreK-12 curriculum support and ordering tool and the top choice of school librarians for educationally-relevant and curated content, including print books, ebooks, databases and multimedia.

Eventually, the company expects to leverage the best of these technologies and other capabilities to drive even greater innovation and value for public and school library, classroom, retail and college bookstore customers.

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